South Korean Government Threatens Arrest Of Striking Junior Doctors

South Korean Government Threatens Arrest Of Striking Junior Doctors

(CTN News) – South Korea’s government has issued a stark ultimatum, threatening the arrest of thousands of striking junior doctors and the revocation of their medical licenses if they do not return to work on Thursday.

This comes as approximately three-quarters of the country’s junior doctors have participated in a week-long strike, causing disruptions and delays in major teaching hospitals.

The protest stems from the government’s plans to significantly increase the intake of medical students each year, aimed at addressing the country’s low doctor-to-patient ratio, one of the lowest among developed nations.

Junior Doctors Struggle to Preserve Quality

However, junior doctors argue that this move would compromise the quality of care by admitting less competent practitioners.

The strike has resulted in a notable reduction in surgery capacity at several hospitals, mainly affecting planned procedures. However, critical care has also been impacted, with reports of an elderly woman dying in an ambulance after multiple hospitals allegedly refused to treat her.

The healthcare system’s structural issues, including overworked and underpaid doctors, have been a focal point of the strike. Junior doctors, despite relatively high salaries, argue that their extensive working hours often lead to earnings below the minimum wage.

Additionally, concerns have been raised about the privatization of healthcare, with doctors claiming that essential services are underpriced, leading to a migration of professionals to more lucrative fields in urban areas.

The government’s proposal to increase medical student admissions has intensified the standoff, with doctors struggling to gain public sympathy.


Healthcare Crisis in South Korea

Despite the inconvenience caused by the strike, some patients express understanding, citing the scarcity of doctors outside major cities.

As tensions escalate, the government refuses to accept doctors’ resignations and has resorted to threatening arrests and license revocations for those not returning to work.

The vice-health minister has warned of a minimum three-month license suspension for those missing the deadline.

This heavy-handed approach could further strain relations and influence the upcoming vote by the Korean Medical Association on whether senior doctors will join the strike.

Amidst this crisis, junior doctors like Ryu Ok Hada express a willingness to face arrest and license suspension if the government fails to address their concerns.

The situation reflects a deepening divide between healthcare professionals and the government, with both sides locked in a contentious standoff.


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